Recap: Star Trek S3E4 "And the Children Shall Lead"

They're Creepy Children, but it's not their fault.

Kirk, Bones and Spock beam down to Triacus to find that Everybody's Dead, Jim. Well, not everybody. The five children that went with their parents are still alive and oblivious to the fact that their parents are dead. It is at this point, the viewer learns one essential thing. In the future, there is no fashion sense! Tommy appears to be wearing an Old-Timey Bathing Suit. Mary looks like a flower child's acid trip. Don is wearing the curtains from Hell's dining room. Ray looks like he's been stealing from the closet of a midget used car salesman. And Steve looks like he's wearing William Wallace's hand-me-downs. (His family name is O'Connel, but this is taking Celtic pride a bit far!) Seriously, Will, what were you thinking?

OK, fashion rant over. The children's behavior is disturbing. Not because it's Troubling Unchildlike Behavior. They are acting exactly like children. Like unusually mouthy, disrespectful children who only care about fun to the point that they couldn't care less if their parents are dead. They were no fun anyway. Kirk wants to find out what went wrong, if something is still going wrong. The kids want to go to Markis 12. If they don't get what they want, they won't throw a tantrum or anything....

They'll just make YOU throw a tantrum!

Tropes for this episode include:

  • Apocalyptic Log: Prof. Starnes (Tommy's father, incidentally) has left one.
  • Children Are Innocent: See-sawed. First, the kids seem a little too innocent, merrily playing while oblivious to the death they're surrounded by. Then they look like manipulative little brats. Finally played straight when it's revealed that they're the ones being manipulated by an alien entity.
  • Cool Down Hug: A frightened Kirk gets pulled into the turbo lift by Spock. Hello, Ho Yay! Looks like Miramanee from that last episode didn't banish you after all!
  • Cruel to Be Kind: What Kirk has to do isn't pleasant at the moment, but it's ultimately for the best.
  • Crying Little Kid: The ep ends with five crying little kids. Bones is overjoyed at this. Now that the denial has been broken, he can help them recover.
  • Driven to Suicide: All the adults of Triacus.
  • Evil Red Head: Tommy, but finally subverted since they're all manipulated by Gorgan.
  • Fiery Red Head: Tommy
  • Five-Token Band: This episode plays it quite straight, with two white boys, one white girl (each with a surname from a different European ethnicity), one black boy and one Asian boy. Under the influence of Gorgan, they also count as Equal-Opportunity Evil.
  • Girlish Pigtails: Mary sports a golden pair.
  • Happier Home Movie: Believe it or not, this is instrumental in defeating the Big Bad! Captain Kirk shows the children tapes of them playing with their parents to remind them of the happy life they had before Gorgan the Friendly Angel corrupted them.
  • I Know What You Fear: Gorgan taught the children the power of learning another person's fears and using the fears to disable and control them.
    • Sulu sees swords surrounding the Enterprise so he wouldn't change course.
    • Uhura's fear of dying to prevent her from calling Starfleet Command.
    • Kirk's fear is losing command of the Enterprise (at least until Spock helps him overcome it).
    • Scotty's fear for his machines prevents Kirk and Spock from overriding the Bridge from Auxiliary Control.
    • Chekov's need to be a dutiful and loyal officer, when he claims he has orders from Starfleet to take Kirk and Spock into custody to get them out of the way.
  • Ironic Nursery Rhyme: The kids sing and play "Ring Around The Rosy" within sight of their dead parents. "We all fall down!" indeed. The tune is played again where ironically appropriate. The chant that the children use to summon Gorgan could fall under this trope as well. It's also a bit of an Ear Worm.
  • Kids Versus Adults: The kids have their own agenda and will not let adults stand in their way.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The title comes from Isaiah 11:6.
  • Mind Control: How the kids get adults to do what they want. Since pouting, saying "pretty please" or endlessly repeating "Will you take us to Markis 12? Will you take us to Markis 12? Will you take us to Markis 12...." doesn't always work.
  • Mouthy Kid: All the kids, but especially Mary.
  • The Mutiny: Caused by Mind Control, though more of the "too terrified to follow orders" rather than "actively fighting your CO" type.
  • Namedar: Kirk addresses Gorgan by name in the final confrontation without the name having mentioned before, in his hearing or at all.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Shouldn't there be some kind of warning on the transporter to let you know that you're beaming crew members into outer space?
  • Our Angels Are Different: Gorgan's not a very friendly angel, despite what the kids' rhyme would say. And what's with the Mylar dress?
  • Papa Wolf: Captain Kirk. He'll make kids cry if that's what it takes to make Gorgan lose power over them. Then he'll pick them up to reassure them while confronting the monster.
  • Premature Encapsulation: The episode makes repeated thematic reference to the "enemy within". Too bad "The Enemy Within" was already the title of an episode two seasons earlier...
  • Recycled Premise: The Enterprise is no stranger to omnipotent children.
  • Red Shirt: Two of them get beamed into empty space because the kids have caused everyone to believe they are still in orbit around Triacus.
  • Summoning Ritual: "Hail, hail, fire and snow...."
  • Shattering the Illusion: Kirk breaks the control Gorgan has on the kids by showing them video of their parents to show they weren't as bad as they said. Destroying this illusion also breaks the illusions they caused the crew to have.
  • Teenage Wasteland: The adults kill themselves, leading the children to their own devices.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Tommy (who looks somewhere between 12 and 14) is the de facto leader of these children who would take over the universe. He takes perverse pleasure in tormenting the adults.
  • There Are No Adults: Because Gorgan killed all of them.
  • The Unintelligible: When Kirk orders a security guard to take Sulu to his quarters, the children make the guard hear nothing but gibberish.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Kirk leaves two security officers on the planet when he beams up, and they're left behind when the children take over the ship and force it to set course for Markis 12. When Kirk regains control, he orders the ship to the starbase where he had intended to offload the kids. No mention is given of the officers who are left on the planet. Unless Kirk goes to pick them up later, he seems to have forgotten all about them and just abandoned them!
  • Vanity Is Feminine: When the characters' worst fears were shown: Kirk's was losing command, Sulu's was facing certain death that he had to maneuver the ship out of, and Uhura's was...being old and ugly. Granted, it seemed to be that being sick and near death that upset her most.
    Uhura: I see my death. A long death. Disease and pain. I see my death.
  • Youthful Freckles: All the kids have them except for Don (who is black) and Ray (who is Asian).